Monthly Archives: September 2012

Reconciling Samkhya, Vedanta and Tantra

In The Life Divine, there is a chapter entitled “Brahman, Ishwara, Purusha – Maya, Prakriti, Shakti“.  According to the editing notes, this chapter was inserted by Sri Aurobindo as part of a revision of The Life Divine completed in 1940 [1].   The purpose of this chapter is to reconcile three different views of the Universe proposed by the philosophies of Samkhya, Vedanta and Tantra.  This intent may not be immediately apparent to those not well-versed in Indian metaphysics, because the word “Samkhya” is explicitly used only twice in this chapter while the terms “Vedanta” and “Tantra” never occur.  This article is a light contextual introduction to this chapter.

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Relativity of detachment

This is a short story recounted by Swami Dayananda Saraswati (b 1930), the founder of the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (not to be confused with Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati of the Arya Samaj).  It was posted recently on a web forum.  The title of the story is mine.

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The Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

Between the eighth and twelfth centuries A.D, a distinctive school of yoga and philosophy flourished in Kashmir under masters such as Vasugupta, Somananda, Utpaladeva, and Abhinavagupta, Jayaratha and Ksemaraja.  For these Rishis, Shiva was not a destructive God or eccentric yogi but the eternal Self which resides in all beings [1].  This school is now called “Kashmir Shaivism”.  Beginning in the 1850s, the Kashmir research department, which was founded by Maharaja Pratap Singh to study the ancient heritage of the region, began recovering and publishing the extant texts of this ancient school[2].  Among the texts discovered was the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra which enumerates 112 Dharanas (methods of centering the awareness).   The Vijnana Bhairava states in verse 162 that it is the distillation of an earlier text named the Rudrayamala Tantra, a scripture which is now lost.  This article details some of the methods of inducing contemplation  listed in the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra.

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Mahatma Gandhi’s aborted 1934 attempt to meet Sri Aurobindo

In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian freedom struggle, sought to meet Sri Aurobindo because they had never met in person before.  The latter declined the request because he didn’t want to break the seclusion that he had been observing since 1926.  Strangely, the Mother who had no such restriction also declined to meet him.  By combining the correspondence available in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi with the records in the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, it is possible to build a complete picture of why this important meeting never transpired.  One of Mahatma Gandhi’s letters seen below also furnishes us with a second-hand account of daily life in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

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A contemplation exercise before going to sleep

Day and night are interconnected in Integral Yoga.  The greater equanimity you maintain during the day, the more conscious you become in your dreams at night and conversely, the better you sleep, the more self-aware you are able to become during the day.  While this is true in principle, it is quite difficult to put into practice during waking hours.  Engrossed in  quotidian social activities, we may find it demanding to monitor every thought, emotion or velleity which bubbles up and gets suppressed from moment to moment.  We barely notice the passing flicker of pride, the soupçon of jealousy, the concealed embarrassment or the shrinking revulsion that our consciousness instinctively invests in every event or person.  Unnoticed, this burden of cathectic bonds builds up day after day in our subconscious eventually turning us into sullen, predictable and listless creatures.

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